Friday, March 29, 2013

Beautiful Sant'Ivo ~ Rome!

Do you have a favorite architect? For me, visiting San Carlo alle quattro Fontane made my choice pretty clear, and then Saint Ivo sealed the deal. Francesco Borromini!

Sant'Ivo is not the easiest place to visit. From what my online research told me, it seemed to be open, only on Sunday mornings, from 9 to noon! Within that short window, on Sundays, you can rest assured that there are services going on, as well. Timing is everything.

I was having a little trouble waking up, after my night on the town with Inta, but I threw my clothes on and headed Southwest toward Piazza Navona. The church is at the south end of the piazza and a block or so east of it. The weird thing is, that the church wasn't even on a couple of my maps. But when you know what you're looking for ... 
Thank you Google Maps!

The big grey vertical on the left is Piazza Navona. The big white circle, touching the right edge, is the Pantheon. In the, almost dead center, is Sant'Ivo ... see the horizontal rectangle with the little round circle? The little round circle is the church, and the space in the rectangle is the courtyard. You enter on first street parallel to Piazza Navona, to the east. This took a little help to figure out on the ground. After all, it looks a lot different from the street!

In the photo below, just right of center, you can see a little information booth to the right of van. I asked the gentleman inside, who I am sure gets this question all the time, where I could find the entrance to Sant'Ivo. He pointed around the corner, to the left of the building with the flags.

Open only on Sundays? Not on all maps? Don't they know that every art history class, that covers the Baroque, talks about the this church, with it's convex and concave façade, and it's groovy spiral spire? Come on!  

Anyway, here's a bit of Italian Baroque music to go with the architecture ...

Finally! Through a big door and out onto a courtyard ... the first view of the famous façade...

Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
Francesco Borromini

The Palazzo della Sapienza Courtyard and Sant'Ivo

The church (center) was build for the Palazzo della Sapienza, which was the seat of the University of Rome until 1935 (founded in 1303.) In 1500, Giacomo Della Porta started work to centralize the structures and bring it all together. He created the two story colonnade you see to the right and left of the church, in the photo above. 

Giacomo died before finishing the project so it fell, thirty years later, to Francesco Borromini, who designed the church we are about to enter!

The altar and Church are dedicated to Saint Ivo or St. Ives, patron saint of lawyers and abandoned children. To find out more about St. Ivo (1253-1303) "Advocate of the Poor", click here and here.

Sorry about the photo of the painting. I never could get a good shot of it!

Sant'Ivo, Leone, Pantaleone, Luca e Caterina d'Alessandria in Gloria di Angeli, 
Painted by Andrea del Cortina

The pilasters draw your eye up to the beautiful dome ...
Check out the little cherubim above the windows and around the center.

Not to get distracted, but how cute is this chair? And, I love the floors!

Borromini created incredible drama, which the Baroque is known for, but without having to cover everything in gold gilt. He let the play of light create the drama. It spills in through the windows, over the beautiful, three dimensional details, and across convex and concave surfaces. Bellissima! 

Talent hits a target no one else can hit;
Genius hits a target no one else can see.
~Arthur Schopenhauer 

This girl sat down to sketch. I was jealous but I new my time was limited!

As I mentioned, in the St. John Lateran post, Borromini was a fan of putti or cherubim. I'm not sure of the difference but basically, it's a head with wings. And, in this case, they are very cute!

To love beauty 
is to see light.
~Victor Hugo

There's another one, below, peaking over the ledge! 

I was right about my time being limited. About 10 minutes after I entered the church, several Italians without cameras were making their way into the pews. Crap! Oops, sorry, we're in church. Anyhow, I took a bunch of pictures, like my life depended on it and then was escorted out, along with about 15 other touristi. 

This poor guy, above, was in charge of letting in the actual patrons and keeping out the folks with cameras. I'm guessing he goes through this every Sunday, because he was very good at his job and knew who was there for mass and who wasn't.

When I got outside, I realized that not only was my camera battery dying, but I'd run off without my spare and it was only 11am! Thank goodness for my iPhone. 

While I was fiddling around with my camera, a nice Kiwi lady was trying to communicate with the gentleman about when she would be able to get into the church. "Mezzogiorno ... meno un quarto Signora." My Italian was now coming in handy and fortunately, you learn "time" in Italian 101. I looked at my watch, "Quarantacinque minuti?" "Si," he said.  "O.K.," I told the nice lady from New Zealand, "we've got 45 minutes to hang around, but it's totally worth it."

In the above shot there are lion heads, in the little roundels, representing Pope Sixtus V and the Montalto family. In fact, there are symbols of popes and their families represented all over, if you know where to look. All of which, contributed funds for the building. The Dragon was Gregory XIII. Pope Paul V and the Borghese were the Dragon and the eagle ... Innocent X and the Pamphilij were the Dove, olive branch and so on. 

My photo, taken by a sweet couple of boys from Eastern Europe. 

Courtyard of Giacomo della Porta

Love the stones ... wouldn't that look so pretty in a garden? ;)

In the following photo, if you look in the little roundels above the 3rd floor windows, you can see the Barberini Bees. (Pope Urban VIII)

After visiting with my new friends from Eastern Europe and New Zealand, and taking some photos, it was time to head back into the church, which stayed open for about 15 minutes before closing, presumably until the following Sunday. (If someone has other information, please share!)

A few more angles with my iPhone, and then I just took in the space ... soaring and beautiful! 

We live in a wonderful world 
that is full of beauty,
charm and adventure.
There is no end to the adventures that we can have
if only we seek them with our eyes open.
~Jawaharlol Nehru

Ciao Sant'Ivo! Ci vediamo ... spero!

Later that day, after another visit to Piazza Navona, I went to Pizza Zaza, where I'd eaten on my last two trips to Rome (see the white canvas sun shield, behind the folks walking toward us? That's Zaza.) Well, look up and see what had been right around the corner, the whole time! How could I have missed that wonderful lantern and spire? I guess that's what happens, when you have your face in a pizza!

For more information on Sant'Ivo, check out Sacred Destinations and for a great New York Times article entitled Borromini's Rome, click here. (It discusses both churches of St. Ivo and San Carlo and gives visitor info on these and other works by Borromini.)

This guy cracks me up! Check it out!  ... It's a video about the rivalry between Borromini and Bernini with a funny Italian dude. Great shots of Rome and the buildings, including my favorites! ;)

Warm wishes, my friends, 
for a blessed and peaceful

Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, March 22, 2013

On Popes and Popemobiles

First, let me say congratulations to my Catholic friends and the new Pope Francis I. Although I'm not Catholic, I became totally obsessed with conclave coverage. In part, it's my love of Rome and its history. And, of course, any chance I get to watch anything involving Italy on T.V., I'm totally in. I even signed up at to get a text as soon as there was white smoke! 

My friend Rachel, laughingly, told me I was probably a Borgia, in a past life. "They were horrible!" I said. However, it's true, I'm totally obsessed with the TV show. (The Borgias, have you seen it? You can rent it Netflix!)

When I heard the new Pope was calling himself Francis, I burst into tears. I was so moved, which I really wasn't expecting. I have such a strong connection to Francis of Assisi and have read so much about him and his life (plus 3 trips to Assisi) that I feel like I know him personally. Anyway, the whole thing got me! That morning, after getting my text saying, "We have white smoke! We have a pope!" but before they announced who it was, I had thought, What if he becomes a Pope Francis? 

The Grand Gala Berlin, 1826-41

I'm skipping ahead a few days, in the posting of my trip, since this subject goes with what's been happening in the news, with the new Pope. 

It was evening in Rome, after a long day at the Vatican Museums, and I was to meet a young woman that I "knew" from Instagram. We planned to meet up for coffee, when the museum closed, but I still had about 45 minutes before I needed to leave. I wasn't sure where to go. They'd closed up the Etruscan art, so I asked one of the cute Italian guards if there was anything else I should see before heading out. 

He told me to go to the Carriage Museum. When I walked in, I had to laugh, because there were ... well ...  a lot more guards than there needed to be, in just one room. At least 5 of them were all in a cluster, shooting the bull, which seemed kind of perfect, for what was basically a garage. Boys like vehicles, you know.

Oh, and by this time, I had no camera battery left, so all of these photos were all taken with my IPhone. 

Sedan Chair of Pope Leo XIII
Domenico Morelli, Naples - 1887
Carved in wood, there are little cameos across the top.

This horse drawn carriage, below, is pretty spectacular and is the grand daddy of them all. It takes up, almost, the entire center of the room. 

Grand Gala Berlin
Felice Eugeni and Gaetano Peroni, Rome - 1826-41

It was commissioned by Pope Leo XII, designed to be pulled by 6 horses and made entirely of wood. The whole thing was covered completely in gold gilding, as you can see.

The inside, is covered in red velvet, or at least from what I could see and what the sign said. It's so big, it's difficult to see inside, unless you are Laker.

The wheels came up to my chin!

1870 was the last time The Grand Gala was seen on the streets of Rome. It carried Pope Pius IX to Santa Maria del Popolo. (Wonder if the Pope enjoyed the Berninis and Caravaggios as much as I did!)

Gala Berlin with Throne (below)
Casalini Brothers, Rome - circa 1825
Manufactured during Leo XII's pontificate, this carriage was used for popes until the beginning of the 1900s. In case you happen to know your Popes, the crest's on the doors are of Piux IX and Pius X. 

Berlina Escort
Casalini Brothers, Rome - Rome circa 1850
The Casalini Brothers, were renown carriage makers and this one (don't you love the blue?) was made during the time of Pius IX.

Berlina Escort
Casalini Brothers, Roma - circa 1850
The oldest of carriages, it was used by "Palace Services" for transporting prelates of the Curia, as well as Cardinals, and was in use until 1922. I love tassels, don't you?

Luciano Luigi Bonaparte
Casalini Brothers, Rome 1868
Made by Gaetano Peroni, in Rome, who was the supplier to the Papal stables. It belonged to Cardinal Luciano Luigi Bonaparte. 

It was a gift from cousin, Napoleon III, when Luigi was nominated to become a cardinal. Isn't family great? 

Cardinal Bonaparte detached himself from the the French court and the Curia. It is said, he was a patron of the arts and led a life of penance and charity toward the poor. But apparently, this didn't keep him from having a swanky carriage. Go Luigi.

When he died, he left the carriage to Pope Leo XIII.

When I saw the carriage below, I thought, how lovely and simple. Well ...

Carriage for Funeral Cortege
Casalini Brothers, Rome 1915
Made during the Ponificate of Pope Benedict XV, it was only for funerals of cardinals and others in the Roman Curia. It doesn't have breaks. I guess that's one way to get to a funeral.

Graham Paige - Type 837
Graham Paige Motors Corporation, Detroit, USA 1929
Donated by the Graham Brothers to Pius XI in 1929. It was the 3rd papal Automobile. The first was a Fiat 525 and the second, a Isotta Fraschini Type 8. (Just in case you were dying to know.) 

This Graham Paige was used by Pius XI to go to St. John Lateran (see previous post), in 1929, which was the first time the pope had left the Vatican since the 1870 fall of Rome. (The 1929 Lateran Pact, finally allowed the Pope to leave the walls of Vatican City!)

Citroën - Lictoria Sex
Società Italiana Automobili Citroën, Milan - 1930
It was donated to Pius XI in June of 1930 by Citroën Italy, and like other cars and previous carriages, the back compartment was fitted with a seat, something akin to a "papal throne." 

I wish the door had been open, because the sign said the interior is arranged like a "1700s Venetian style drawing room, with crimson brocade."  Not sure what that all means, but it sounds pretty nice. I can't help but giggle like a 12 year old at the name of this vehicle, wondering what the pope thought when they told him what it was called.

Mercedes Benz - 300 SEL Limousine 
Daimler Mercedes Benz, Stuttgart - 1966
Received as a gift, to Pope Paul VI, this car was used at the same time as a Mercedes 600, but was rarely used. 

Then, Pope John Paul II chose it immediately, as his main automobile, but after the assassination attempt in 1981, the car was fully armoured.

Fiat 1107 - Nuova Campagnola
Fiat, Torino - 1980
This Fiat was donated by the company, during Pope John Paul II's visit to Turin. It was only used for a year and one day. This is the vehicle he was riding in, during the attempt on his life.

Volkswagon Beetle
Pope John Paul II received this Bug, in 2004, as a gift from the president of Volkswagen Mexico, and a group of workers from the factory. They presented it to him, in Saint Peter's Square, as a thank you gift for the Pontiff's visit to Mexico in 2002. It was the last Beetle ever, to come off the line Mexico.

Mercedes Benz = 230 GE
Daimler Mercedes Benz, Stuttgart - 1990

I found a slideshow of cool vintage photos of Mercedes Popemobiles  HERE

After my little trip down Popemobile lane, I headed off to meet my Instagram friend, Laura Conforti, for a cappuccino. (Look her up if you are on Instagram!) Actually, she had a coffee and I had wine. After all those many hours seeing the Borgia Apartments, the Rafael Rooms, Sistine Chapel ... Roman Art (it goes on and on) my dogs were barkin'! (My feet were killing me!) 

All I'd known about Laura, is that she travels a lot and takes great photos! She was born and raised in Rome and takes off whenever she can. It was wonderful meeting her in person ... in Rome! I hope to again, on my next trip, whenever that may be!
It would be great if some day she could come out West ... far West! To California! 

Anyway, hope this finds you all doing well, happy and healthy! 

Blessings and light, 

... and in honor of all the Mercedes Popemobiles ...